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Without Smarts, New York's 'Taxi of Tomorrow' is Really the Taxi of Yesterday

• Clay Dillow via PopSci.com

One of the more intriguing attractions on display at the ongoing New York International Auto Show is Nissan’s NV200, the so-called “Taxi of Tomorrow” that the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) will phase in as the exclusive taxi of NYC starting late next year. Here at PopSci, when we hear words like "The X of Tomorrow," our ears prick way up. And the NV200 offers some nice features, like places to charge mobile devices, expanded cargo space and legroom, and dedicated rear compartment climate control. But the taxi of the future it is not. In fact, when one looks at hyper-connected future and the smart devices driving it, the “taxi of tomorrow” looks a lot like the taxi of 2005.

That’s not to say the NV200 isn’t an improvement over the Crown Vics that clog New York’s roadways today. Its dual sliding passenger doors are a blessing for pedestrians and cyclists, who are increasingly at risk of being “doored” as NYC squeezes more bike lanes along the fringes of its avenues and streets. Each cab boasts two USB charge ports and one 12-volt socket, allowing passengers to charge up their phones and other mobile devices--if they have a compatible cord with them. The increased space for both passengers (no floor hump!) and cargo is a plus, and the 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder engine will doubtlessly go a long way toward improving both fuel consumption and air quality. We’re even big fans of the transparent panel overhead that allows passengers to look up at the modern metropolis enveloping them.

What it lacks is any feature that actually meshes with what we know the future will bring. These cabs will still be in service long after the day comes when it’s more or less impossible to buy a new mobile phone that isn’t Web-enabled. If the future is about anything, it’s about connectivity, data, and the software that makes use of that data. Don’t believe it? Virtually every company representing at the auto show is pushing some version of its in-car technology--apps and voice recognition programs and ways to enhance the driver and passenger experiences through connectivity.

This connectivity is the future of automobiles, so shouldn’t the “taxi of tomorrow” reflect this? We think so. Above all else, the taxi of the future should be smart. Here's how.

Connect the Cabs to Each Other

 

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